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V. PEROFF'S ROLE IN BOUCHARD INQUIRY EXPANDS
PEROFF IS SENT TO MONTREAL
On February 8, 1973, French police, acting on information from a U.S. Customs-BNDD confidential informant, seized 10 kilograms of heroin and arrested three key drug operatives in a raid in the Rome Hotel in Paris.
The informant was an American named Frank Peroff, BNDD code number SXA-3-0004. Peroff returned to his home and family in Rome immediately after the Paris arrests. But a week later, SİA3-0004 was operative again. This time federal law enforcement agents sent him to Montreal.
Peroff testified before the Investigations Subcommittee that Mario Cozzi, John J. Molittieri and Vernon Pitsker, all of Customs, and Richard Falanga of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) wanted him to go to Montreal to be interviewed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Then, Peroff testified, the federal agents wanted him to call on Conrad Bouchard, the Canadian racketeer, and try to find out from him if the Solarik-Silverman narcotics seizure in Paris had wiped out the entire shipment. If there was more heroin than that which was seized, Peroff said, the agents wanted him to find out about it.
Peroff said he told the agents that he did not want to get involved in another narcotics case. “I explained that I was promised the Paris transaction was all that I had to do," Peroff said. But, he added, he was persuaded to continue to help out when the agents "pointed out to me that I would have a problem in relation to the counterfeit money" if he did not go along with their latest requests (p. 20). Peroff said the government used blackmail to force him to cooperate (p. 116).
Peroff said that he was soon on a plane and he was headed for Montreal. He stopped over in Paris where he met for about an hour and a half with BNDD Agent Falanga and Customs Agent Pitsker. Peroff said his flight connected to Montreal in Boston. In Boston, he was met by another Customs agent, Robert Bishop, who saw that he made the flight to Montreal, Peroff said (p. 20).
At the Montreal airport, Peroff said, two U.S. Customs inspectors directed him to the Customs office located in the airline terminal. There
, he said, he waited for three hours. Finally, Peroff said, the Customs agent in Montreal, Sidney C. Bowers, arrived. Bowers was accompanied by BNDD Agent Ronald Swanson and Sergeant Paul Sauve of the RCMP, Peroff said. The four men held a brief meeting in the airport bar. Then, Peroff said, he was taken to the Sheraton Mt. Royal Hotel where a room had been reserved for him. Peroff said his room was electronically bugged by the RCMP, a practice the Mounties followed on each subsequent trip he made to Montreal.
It is important to note that on all my trips to Montreal,
always strategically put into a suite or room where the
All of the conversations with Bouchard and his associates and anybody else, including RCMP agents or U.S. agents
that took place in my room were on tape (p. 21). The day after he arrived in Montreal, Peroff said, the American and Canadian agents told him to call Bouchard. He did. Bouchard came over to the hotel. Peroff said that Bouchard, when he arrived, "immediately insisted" that Peroff move to another hotel. Peroff checked into the Sheraton Fontainebleau (p. 21).
Peroff said he met again with Bouchard and that Bouchard was talking about a new narcotics transaction. In Bouchard's plan, Peroff was to fly to Marseilles, France and make a pick-up of drugs at a secret heroin laboratory. But Bouchard gave no further details of what he had in mind. Peroff said he remained in Montreal about a week, reported to Customs agent Sidney Bowers on his meetings with Bouchard and then returned to Rome (p. 22).
While Peroff could not remember the exact dates of this trip to Montreal, U.S. Customs Service records show the Peroff trip to have been from February 15 through February 27, 1973.
A BIG REWARD IS OFFERED PEROFF
In Rome, Peroff's news of the clandestine heroin laboratory in Marseilles sparked considerable interest among American law enforcement agents. Peroff said he talked about the heroin lab with John J. Molittieri of Customs and a BNDD officer he remembered only as Frank. Peroff said the agents explained to him that "a primary objective" of BNDD was to discover heroin manufacturing facilities outside the United States and the Marseilles installation would be an appropriate target for them (p. 22).
The agents then asked Peroff to return to Montreal and entice Bouehard into joining him in a new narcotics transaction, one that would lead them to the Marseilles plant. Peroff said he did not want to, protesting, as he had before, that he did not wish to get involved in more narcotics deals. But, Peroff said, the federal agents were persuasive. He said they offered him a $250,000 reward-and they reminded him that the underworld does not look kindly on informants who are exposed. Peroff told Senators:
Again, I was reluctant to continue and again it was pointed out to me I was considered a prime suspect by Bouchard and his people in the Paris bust. This time I was offered a quarter of a million dollars as reward if a narcotics lab could be found (p. 22).
While both Molittieri of Customs and Frank of BNDD made the big reward offer, Peroff said, it was understood that the money would be paid by BNDD, Peroff said he asked Customs Attache Mario Cozzi and Customs Agent George Corcoran if the reward offer was credible. Peroff said that Cozzi, a man “I had come to know and respect," and Corcoran both assured him he "was not being lied to” (p. 23).
Peroff agreed to accept the new assignment. He was told by Customs agents, he said, that a private jet aircraft and pilot would be made available to him in Washington, D.C. The private airplane would be an attraction to Bouchard who would require air transport for a large drugs shipment. Peroff said that he was told that from Washington he would fly in the private jet to Montreal. In Montreal, he was to display the aircraft to Conrad Bouchard, to Bouchard's associate, Giuseppe (Pepe) Cotroni, and other hoodlums. The purpose of showing the mobsters the aircraft, Peroff said, was to demonstrate to them his capability of transporting drugs (p. 24).
John J. Molittieri of Customs sent a cable from Rome to Washington and New York Customs officials March 8, 1973 in which he discussed the plan to use Peroff to locate the secret heroin plant in Marseilles. In the wire, Molittieri made reference to providing Peroff "with a Jet Commander piloted by an amiable undercover agent pilot" which would enable Peroff to "infiltrate the Cotroni group in Canada, locate a clandestine lab in Marseilles..." The Molittieri cable was made part of the hearing record.
THE PEROFFS' EXPENSES
In mid-March of 1973, about two weeks after his February meeting with Conrad Bouchard in Montreal, Peroff and his family flew from Rome to New York. Peroff said Customs Agent George Corcoran accompanied them as far as Paris.
From Rome, Customs Attache Mario Cozzi and Customs Agent John J. Molittieri reported to their superiors in Washington on the departure of the Peroff family. Their cable went out March 19, 1973 and information copies were sent to Harris J. Martin of the Secret Service in Washington, Frank Leyva of the Secret Service in Paris, Customs Agent Sidney C. Bowers in Montreal and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in Washington. A copy of the wire was introduced as an exhibit at the hearings. In the cable, Cozzi and Molittieri said the "C.I.”--Peroff-left Rome on Pan American Airlines flight 119 on March 16, 1973. The C.I., the Customs men reported, was paid $500 per diem expense money to cover the period from March 1 through March 20. The cable went on to say that Mario Cozzi had paid Peroff "extra expenses" of $336 for costs incurred during Peroff's February 15 through February 27 visit to Canada and for the cost of an "undercover rental car" which Peroff used in Rome. Another expense paid by Customs, the Cozzi-Molittieri wire said, was $1,323.50, the cost of air transportation back to the United States for Mrs. Peroff and the five Peroff children. This payment, the cable disclosed, had to do with “work he [Peroff] had accomplished for the Secret Service."
Independent inquiry by the Subcommittee established that the Peroff's total airfare was $1,634.50. Subcommittee investigators found that while Customs made the initial payment for the tickets that the federal agency which ultimately paid the airfare was Secret Service. This payment was Peroff's reward from the Secret Service for his work on the Solarick-Silverman counterfeit case.
Cozzi and Molittieri closed their wire with a word of warning. They said:
when dealing with this C.I. we have found he may assume that when he advises agents of some action he takes that USG (United States Government] will pay all expenses ...C.I. was put on notice prior to departure on Friday March 16, 1973 by J. J. Molittieri, M. Cozzi and George Corcoran that he should not expect payments for any expenses not specifically authorized in advance.
PEROFFS ARRIVE IN NEW YORK
Peroff said his flight landed at the Kennedy Airport in New York. He said he was met by Customs Agent Richard Dos Santos and five other Customs personnel. Peroff said he and his family were taken to the nearby Ramada Inn Motel. They stayed there three days (p. 23). During this time, Peroff said, he called Conrad Bouchard in Montreal several times (p. 29).
Peroff said he taped the conversations with Bouchard on a cassette recorder. He said he recorded these calls at the direction of Customs Agent Douglas McCombs of Washington and the Customs Agent in Montreal, Sidney Bowers. Peroff said he kept possession of the cassettes until the last week in March when he turned them over to Custom Agent Richard Dos Santos (p. 29).
The Peroffs were next moved into the New York Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, Peroff said. How it came about that the Peroffs were taken to the Hilton was explained by Dos Santos in a March 14, 1974 prehearing interview with Subcommittee Investigators Philip Manuel and William Gallinaro. With Dos Santos' concurrence, the interview was taped but it was not sworn.
Dos Santos described the arrival in New York of Frank Peroff
he arrived with his wife and five kids and about 18 pieces of luggage and his father ... and his brother were at the airport to meet him. The first thing he says, “Can I talk to you a minute." I says, “Yeah, what do you want to talk to me about?” [Peroff says], "My father's here and he thinks I am a government agent so don't say anything .
And he met with his father and his brother and the meeting ended and I got another vehicle and we packed everybody in
two cars with their luggage and took them over to the motel. Dos Santos said the Peroffs stayed at the Ramada Inn for the weekend. Monday morning he took them to Brooklyn and showed them the hotel where he had arranged for them to stay. The Peroffs looked at their new quarters and Peroff said to Dos Santos, "Listen, I can't leave my wife here. They're not used to this .. the surroundings."
Dos Santos told the Subcommittee investigators that the hotel wasn't that bad. "The Waldorf Astoria it was not,” Dos Santos said, "but clean, no cockroaches, cooking facilities, parking, walking distance for the kids, and shopping areas in the immediate area. Very little chance of getting mugged.” Dos Santos said Peroff replied:
We're used to staying in places like the Hilton. Let's go to the New York Hilton. "So," Dos Santos said, "we went to the New York Hilton." Dos Santos said it was his understanding that the Perotl's were paying their own bills anyway so “I didn't give a damn" where they staved.
Dos Santos added that when they arrived at the Hilton, Peroff turned to him and said he didn't have any credit cards and that the hotel required some credit identification. Dos Santos said he then went ahead and registered the Peroff family under his own name. Over the next month, the Peroffs ran up a bill of about $3,000—and all of it, Richard Dos Santos said, was charged to the name of Richard Dos Santos.
PEROFF GOES TO WASHINGTON, THEN MONTREAL Peroff testified that once his wife and children settled into their suite at the Hilton, Customs Agent Dos Santos and another Customs agent he remembered only as Tony took him to the LaGuardia Airport in New York. Following the instructions of Dos Santos, Peroff boarded an Eastern Airlines shuttle flight for Washington, D.C. Peroff said the date of the trip was approximately March 20, 1973 (p. 23).
At Washington National Airport, Peroff said, he was met by Customs Agent Douglas McCombs. McCombs and he went from the main terminal at National to the adjacent General Aviation Terminal where private aircraft are serviced. There they talked for about 15 minutes with another Customs man whose name Peroff had forgotten (p. 24).
Peroff said he and the two Customs agents were joined by two other men. They had just flown in from West Palm Beach, Florida in a Lear jet
. The pilot, Peroff said, was named Bob. He was not a Customs officer. Bob's passenger was a Customs agent from the Homestead Air Force Base in Dade County, Florida. The five men talked some more. It was agreed that the following morning Bob would fly Peroff to Montreal in the Lear jet. The Customs agent from Homestead would go along as copilot (p. 24).
Peroff said that a firm instruction Customs Agent McCombs gave him was that in dealing with the Canadian mobsters he was never to agree to smuggle foreign heroin into Canada, Peroff said:
McCombs told me that one way or another this bust must come down in the States rather than Canada (p. 25). Peroff said he was taken to a hotel in Washington near the Customs Service headquarters at 2100 K Street. The next morning the three men--Peroff, Bob and the Customs agent copilot-flew to Montreal. In Montreal, Royal Canadian Mounted Police had reserved rooms for them at the Martinique Hotel. Peroff said his room was electronically bugged by the RCMP (p. 24).